AAAS Letter Urging Congress to Support Scientific Research
APLU joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and 285 other universities, science societies, research organizations and industry groups to send a letter urging House and Senate leadership “to swiftly complete the FY 2017 appropriations process with robust investments in scientific research.” Additionally, the letter asks Congressional leaders “…to prioritize these investments and reject the unsound administration-proposed cuts to science as you work to complete FY 2017 appropriations and as you begin to craft the FY 2018 funding bills.” The letter can be found here.
AGB Launches National Campaign to Engage Trustees in Advocating for Higher Education
The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) has launched a national campaign, The Guardians Initiative: Reclaiming the Public Trust, “to engage college and university trustees in reclaiming the value proposition of higher education and its contribution to both individuals and society.” As part of the launch, AGB released the report The Business of Higher Education to help trustees communicate around issues of higher education finance. Future topics will include: Undergraduate Return on Investment, the College as Citizen, Graduate and Professional Education, Research, and Intellectual Property, International Education and Globalization, and 21st Century Teaching and Learning.
Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) 3.0 Introduced
Last week, Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Dean Heller (R-NV), among others, introduced the third version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), S. 856. APLU is reviewing changes in the legislation in coordination with our membership as was done with the previous version of the legislation resulting in recommendations for improvement.
Groups Urge Secretary DeVos to Support Improved Higher Ed Data
A number of organizations including APLU sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos urging the Department to continue to provide and improve key higher education data, some of which is included in the College Scorecard. The letter asks the Secretary to “lead the Department in working with institutions to enhance data quality, improve transparency, and reduce reporting burden while ensuring that students, families, and other stakeholders have timely and actionable postsecondary data.”
IRS and ED Announce Data Retrieval Tool is Down Until Next FAFSA Season
Late last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Education (ED) announced that the Data Retrieval Tool (DRT), which helps automatically populate elements of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as well as applications for income-based repayment plans, will be offline until the next FAFSA season. The DRT was disabled earlier in the month due to data security concerns.
APLU has stressed to the Department of Education the critical importance of the tool in removing barriers to FAFSA completion for many students, particularly low-income, first-generation students.
House Passes the HONEST ACT, H.R. 1430
The House passed by a vote of 228-194, H.R. 1430, the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act of 2017. The HONEST Act formerly was the Secret Science Reform Act in the 113th and 114th Congress and would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from proposing, finalizing, or disseminating rules, regulations, or other “covered actions” until all scientific and technical information used to develop and support that decision is made publically available online in a way where the research can be independently analyzed and reproduced, which is not always possible or practical for some studies. APLU joined AAAS and a number of other associations, societies, and universities on a letter expressing concern with the legislation.
UMR Releases NIH Research Funded Jobs Data
United for Medical Research (UMR, an NIH advocacy organization that APLU helped found) released updated data outlining the economic impact of NIH research in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The data show that NIH-funded research supported nearly 380,000 jobs and $65 billion in economic activity in FY2016, a significant increase over FY2015. UMR attributes the increase to a larger NIH budget in FY2016 over FY2015 and urges the administration to reconsider its proposed steep cut to the NIH budget for FY2018. A two-page report with the data for all 50 states plus DC is available here. The state-by-state impact map and data is available here.
NEH Announces New Funding for Humanities Projects
The National Endowment for the Humanities announced funding for 208 humanities projects totaling $21.7 million. Many of these grants were awarded to APLU members and include programs that support international collaboration, engage students in interdisciplinary courses, and help veterans. A list of grants to universities is available here.